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Gallup: Obesity trend back on the rise

Posted On Thu, June 27, 2013

Even though the adverse health effects of being overweight are well-documented, obesity continues to be a major issue for Americans today, based on the prevalence with which individuals are considered as such.

According to recent polling data conducted by Gallup, the adult obesity rate in the U.S. through the first half of 2013 currently stands at just over 27 percent. Versus the same six-month stretch of 2012, that's up from 26.2 percent and from 25.5 percent in 2008.

The research firm came to its conclusions after surveying 84,000 Americans, who were questioned between January and June 20. Obesity was determined by the Body Mass Index, which is a weight-to-height measurement ratio that divides a person's weight in kilograms by their height in meters. This produces a BMI value. Individuals whose BMI index score is above 30 are considered "obese,"  25 to 29.9 are classified as "overweight," while 18.5 to 24.9 are in a healthy or normal weight range. Anything below 18.5 are believed to be "underweight."

Researchers for Gallup note that this most recent finding goes against survey data from 2011 and 2012, when obesity trends were diminishing.

"One possible reason why obesity has increased is that fewer Americans are exercising frequently, in 2013 compared with 2012," researchers wrote. "Gallup has found that exercising three days per week for 30 minutes per day is closely linked to having a lower BMI.

AMA designates obesity as a disease
Meanwhile, in a move that some describe as controversial, the American Medical Association recently classified obesity as a disease.

Patrice Harris, AMA board member, explained why health officials have concluded this.

"Recognizing obesity as a disease will help change the way the medical community tackles this complex issue that affects approximately one in three Americans," said Harris. "The AMA is committed to improving health outcomes and is working to reduce the incidence of cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes, which are often linked to obesity."

Health experts say that as a result of the AMA's decision, insurers may ultimately wind up adjusting health insurance rates, as this changes the way in which providers may cover certain treatments that were once not provided for but now may be under obesity's new distinction as a disease..

Jeffrey Mechanick, clinical professor of medicine at Mount Sinai's School of Medicine and president of the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists, told the New York Daily News that this could ultimately be the best way to diminish the obesity epidemic within the U.S.

"Obesity is a considerable problem, it's a pervasive problem," said Mechanick. "It affects all of medicine in one way or another. All the things we have been doing [to combat it], even though they're well thought out based on science, haven't been working so well."

While there are a variety of ways in which to lose weight, health experts agree that the most effective way of going about it is through a combination of eating less and exercising on a regular basis. The federal government recently released a nutrition table that includes the importance of getting regular, moderate aerobic activity between 30 and 60 minutes each day.

As for which diet plans work best, their effectiveness tend to vary from person to person. Some thrive on high protein, low carbohydrate plans, while others weight loss systems use a point-based system. Generally, the fewer calories a particular food has, the lower point value it's given.

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